Monday, January 7, 2008

Two thoughts for the day

First, today is a day of joy for me. While it wasn't at it's usual 8 am time, today I did Matins again for the first time since September. My usual custom is to get to the Church sometime before 8 - work for a bit, have an abbreviated Matins at 8 (everything up to the readings, then prayers and done), then return to work. Since I came down with Mono, I hadn't been doing that. Why? Well, who knew when I was going to get into Church, and two, I just wasn't getting everything done and had to pull back on things. As no one (typically) joins me for Matins, and it tends more for being for my benefit (and of course this does pass onto my parishioners) - it was cut, along with many things as I recovered.

I did Matins today.

Now, what I will do is on Mondays I will look at the texts for the upcoming Sunday - as I like to write a draft of a sermon on Monday (that way no matter what explodes during the week, I am ready to preach next Sunday) - or if I got here bright and early in the morning on Monday, I may do the daily reading from the LSB. Tues-Thurs is the LSB. I have missed it. I also remember why I had paused it - for it is intense - a period of intense reflection for me and tiring - but I think I have the oomph to do it.

I like Matins because it makes me think. Normally on Mondays I won't write a response to my thoughts in Matins, simply because Monday morning is for Sermon - but Psalm 103 made me think of something dealing with recent discussions here and elsewhere. At any rate, verse 4 reads "Who redeems your life from the pit."

I have heard people wish to approach the whole "redemption" language as nothing but a metaphor - after all, whom did God buy us from?

God speaks of redeeming His people out of Israel. This confuses people. It shouldn't. They were slaves. They were property - they belongs to Pharaoh. God buys them - there is an exchange. I will cease giving you plagues (note: God has every right to give plagues to whom He wishes) and you will set my people free. It is an exchange - freedom from plagues for freedom for my people. They are redeemed out of Egypt.

Likewise us. Who (or what) were we redeemed from? Think on how often Paul calls us by our nature slaves to sin. What we must remember is that since the fall, mankind by nature is not just neutral, or corrupted (and just needs to be fixed), but is in the camp of Satan, bound to sin and death. We, by sinning in the garden, had pledged ourselves to Satan and his cause against God. Christ Jesus redeems, or buys, or makes an exchange for us.

Now, Satan had tried to set the terms in bargaining with Christ - I'll restore to you all the kingdoms, all the people of the world - just worship me. Jesus doesn't do that. Jesus says instead, I will let death have it's way with me - in exchange for my people. I will take them out of your camp, you will get to have your way with me. And Satan bites. Ultimately an unsatisfying exchange for Satan (as most impulse buys are). Christ by going into death buys us freedom from death eternal. Christ by taking the consequences of sin buys us from away from sin.

The key to understanding this is understanding how utterly stuck man is without God's intervention. The people of Israel do not get freedom apart from God. We do not get freedom apart from God's action. It makes sense - it just shows how horrible we are by nature post fall, and also how utterly dependent we are upon God.

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